I was thrilled that runners world wanted to hear about my story and battle through cancer so far. I have written a small piece for them and it is now live on their site which you can click on to read. Already I have had some contact from others in a similar situation which has been great to read and respond to. http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/community/real-runners-tom-pearce-running-with-cancer/12131.html</p>
So 'the gun' has gone and I am 'off the blocks'!. As I write this post I am sat having my first dose of chemo, in the comfort of my hospital chair switching between reading runners world and my new 'chemo diary'...they make quite a pair!. Frustratingly the wound from the original surgery is not healed and so whilst it is certainly likely that the chemo will delay this still further, my oncologist has said we need to 'crack on'. If I'm honest I am glad she feels like this as I really want to 'get going' as well. Of course what this is unfortunately likely to mean is that the chances of me running anytime soon is significantly reduced. I am simply going to have to accept the fact that it needs to be right before I get going again. I will of course still cling onto the hope that it will be possible durning this long haul of chemo and will have the 'trainers at the ready' should I get the 'ok'. Serena and I have just had a chat and agreed that 'my chemo' day will be the Wednesday of each fortnight (bloods and ops's in the morning and chemo in the afternoon). They have Wifi and all the mod cons here, so I will be able to keep in touch with work and the outside world which is great. So I am here now for the next couple of hours before they send me home, chemo pump in hand. They have given me some steroids which hopefully helps with the sickness....so far, so good!. I will then be back in again on Thursday when they take it out and then leave me alone for the next couple of weeks. That will then be 1 done, 12 to go!.
I am all 'hooked up' and ready to go!.So this afternoon I had my port-a-cath fitted ready for chemo to start next Tuesday. The procedure was done back in the Dunedin hospital (where I had the bowel surgery) and as I had hoped I bumped into some of the old faces again which was great!. They were all as friendly as I remember, and were keen to catch up with me to find out how I was doing. I explained that I had undergone another surgery down in Basingstoke since. Mark, one of the doctors wanted to know how my running was going....I told him that I had managed a couple of light ones, but that as I wasn't fully recovered from the 1st surgery I was taking it easy for now and will get cracking again once chemo starts. I am really glad that my chemo treatments will all be done at Dunedin as well...once again a 'top team' to look after me. Serena, one of the chemo nurses introduced herself to me today...straight away I really liked her. She has a real 'can do' attitude and has told me she thinks with the right focus I will be fine...let's hope she is right. I also heard back from runners world yesterday and they liked the piece I sent onto them which is great to know. My contact there, Annie, said she just needs to run past the editor and will then let me know when it goes live. With the port-a-cath apparently taking around 7-10 days to heal up I am figuring that in that time my wound will have fully sorted itself out as well....that will be my 'green light' to get the trainers back on again!..can't wait!. It will also coincide with the start of 'week 2' of chemo which is apparently when I will feel at my best.
I think yesterday must have been a record for the number of medical appointments in 1 day since treatment started...3 in total!. The first 2 were to meet with my practitioner nurse (wound dressing) and stoma nurse (usual follow up). Finally later in the afternoon I had my first chance to see Alice since the liver surgery. No more 'bombshells' this time which was a relief!. To be honest I wasn't expecting anything, given the fact that I haven't been scanned since I came out. She had heard from Merv and was equally pleased with the progress I had made. She then went on to explain that the 6 months chemo regime will start on the 25th August - just over 2 weeks from now. Strange really, but even though I knew this was exactly what she was going to cover off on this appointment, somehow it felt even more real..there is no getting away from the fact that this has to happen. I know this is going to be a rough old ride and I just hope that my body can tolerate it well enough for me to still work and run. Alice totally understands this and also wants me to be able to, however of course we both understand that until we have started we just don't know. So for the first time in a long time I have a few 'days off' from treatments / appointments. I will be back to hospital in the week commencing 18th August for the port-a-cath to go in, in readiness for the chemo to start the week after. I have managed a couple more small runs since my last post which have been great to be able to do (for those who may be interested they are posted on the 'my run's page of the website). Hopefully over time I can increase these and get myself back into shape
So the day I have been so looking forward to has finally arrived (2 weeks earlier than planned)..... I have a run 'in the bag'!!! Admittedly a small one (6.5km with 3 breaks), but at least it's a start!. I had my second follow up with Merv today which went really well. He explained the bloods were still looking great and that my liver was already up to 70% capacity. Being just over 2 weeks since surgery he said that I was 'ahead of the curve' which was really encouraging to hear. I asked him about running and he was very honest and practical about it which I really appreciated. He clearly understood that starting to run again is a key milestone in my mental recovery to both surgeries. He explained that if I feel ready then I can go for it, although as always I need to listen to my body and take it steady. So, that's exactly what I have done tonight.....and I feel mentally on top of the world!. With the iPod on and the wind in my face, I didn't think about cancer once!...couldn't have asked for more. Ok, so I must admit to feeling like I had lead weights attached to my legs and that at the end I had just run a full marathon, but then Merv did say that feeling tired will be totally normal. Over time this will slowly come back and I will properly be 'back in the game' again!. Going back to work yesterday and today, combined with the run tonight has really now made me feel like there is 'light at the end of this tunnel' after all!!!
9 days post op and I definitely feel like I have 'turned a corner'. I was back to see Merv today. He was very pleased with how the wound was healing. He took some blood and as an added bonus the stitches came out as well....1 week earlier than planned!. I am now definitely starting to feel that the long awaited run I am so keen to do is getting close now...may even beat that 13th August target, you never know!
So I have received some good news this morning....Merv is happy enough with my progress to 'release me back into the wild' tomorrow morning. Whilst it has been very comfortable here nothing beats your own bed!. Other than the obvious physical barriers that I have faced along the way, it has been the mental side which has 'tested' me the most I think this time round. I have had many opportunities to speak with those people who treat cancer patients like me...the work they do still astounds me and has been a source of immense inspiration. Whether they have been the surgeons, the doctors, the nurses, the porters, the cleaners....literally everyone one of them in their own way has helped get me through all this. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had the best team possible. It is not just the 'obvious medical care' but the conversations of support constantly. Isaac, one the nurses here just yesterday made, what to most would be such a small comment about taking life for granted...the fact you never even think twice about putting on your underwear every day, suddenly now becomes such 'a privilege'...ridiculous I know but so true. He also said that in his job he very much 'takes the lead' from the patients he cares for...somehow this has made me want to try and help him..so he can help me!. I full intend to 'grab life by the balls' once this nightmare is over. If this episode in my life has taught me anything, it's that going out there and doing what makes you happy is really important (I know this is a real cliche and often people in this kind of situation say this, however I can honestly say that once you are 'in it' you really feel it). It doesn't mean you have to step on people to get it, in fact quite the contrary....try and take the ones you love along with you for the ride as well!...Jack and Ollie, look out, we've got some serious 'boy adventures' coming up in the next few years!.
Déjà vu!. Once again I lie here in another hospital bed recovering from another surgery...already it feels like a long time ago, but it was only 72hrs since the surgeon was prepping to go in and take my latest cancer instalment out. There are a few things that feel physically different this time round...the first being how much more tired I am. I wondered whether this is partly done to the fact that I have had 2 surgeries in 2 months, but perhaps more that this time my body has been left to regenerate an organ. I guess I will never really know. My frame of mind on the whole prognosis is still good, and provided there are no more shockers from Alice in the coming weeks / months, then I genuinely feel that this disease is well and truly behind me. Maybe it's just that this is my third stay in hospital in as many months or the fact that this one has 'hit me more' physically, but I must admit feeling a little low / lethargic today. The liver nurse has just been into see me this morning and said that once all the tubes and wires are out I will feel like a new man....I am holding her to that!. The plan is to do this today. Getting through the next few days building up my strength I feel in my head will be a key milestone. Still on course for 13th August..in my head at least!
Unfortunately my worse fears were realised yesterday as I had it confirmed that the cancer has indeed spread to my liver. It is important to say though that this is what is referred to as a 'secondary cancer' and therefore not as serious as being a 'primary cancer'. In a nutshell this means that they can at least perform surgery to cut it out thank god....the prognosis is good. Merv, my new surgeon is now 'my man on the case'!. He will carry out the procedure next Wednesday. Similar to last time, this will involve another stay in hospital (probably around 1 week), followed by another 4 weeks recovery before chemo starts (for the originally planned 6 month period). Having now had the chance to take in the news, whilst of course I am totally gutted that I will have to go through another surgery, at least it will hopefully mean that this will be the end of it and I can kiss this thing goodbye!...again!...forever!. Feels strange that I have set this website up to try and promote running as a way to help get through cancer treatment and I'm not even running at the moment!. The desire is there for sure, but sadly while I have this problem from the main wound following the bowel surgery, I know I would be really stupid to. Instead I will keep the focus on the day when hopefully soon I will be able to 'don those trainers' once again....new goal being 13th August (I don't know why this date but at least it's a target 4 weeks post surgery!)
Not a post I was hoping or expecting to write so soon after the bowel surgery only 6 weeks ago. Anyway I have just had another major set back as I learnt yesterday, following an appointment with Alice (my oncologist), that the cancer is potentially back in my liver. I really felt I had been through all 'the shocks' of this cancer journey so far, and so admittedly was completely 'floored' by this news. Next steps are to get an urgent appointment with the liver cancer surgeon Alice has recommended, based down in Basingstoke. As I understand this chap is world class and so once again I am in good hands which is of course really encouraging to know. 24hrs on it has now properly sunk in and I am trying to stay positive in spite of everything. Being able to start exercising and at least feeling like I am actually 'doing something' will really help me now I think. With the wound from the surgery slowly getting better I hope that I can maybe consider a short run next week...I really hope so. It now looks likely that there will now not only be the chemo (which was always part of the plan) but also more surgery....I guess I have done it before so no reason I can't again.